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Many people have asked us: “Why did you incorporate a sloped drainage deck into the Selva/Amazonia terrariums?” The answer is not obvious. But, we want to help people understand how important this feature is in the design of capable terrariums. The answer is twofold. First, it reduces the concentration of nitrates and other nutrients in the system, and second, it helps reduce parasite loads within the system as well. This post explains how.

Almost all vivariums, as well as terrariums, concentrate nutrients. Traditional systems use egg crate, matala, or other media that suspend terrarium substrate above a water reservoir. That reservoir can hold a gallon or more of leachate. Typical misters release ½ cup of water per minute. So, in 30 seconds of misting, ¼ cup of water per mister is released, and in the system overall, assuming the terrarium has 4 mist heads, a total of 1 cup released into the system. So, if the system is already saturated, 1/16 (6%) of the reservoir volume is exchanged. But, its important to note that this water is anything by pure. Once it leaves the mist head, it first splashes on leaves, and then runs down leaves, rocks, and other materials before it leaches into the substrates. As it runs, it picks up urine, feces, parasites, and bacteria, and then deposits all of that into the soil, and thence into the reservoir. As this water drops down through the barrier, the droplets of water fall into the nearly stagnant reservoir. And, thereafter, ever so slowly, the effluent makes its way out of the system.

A sloped deck system functions entirely differently than an egg crate/barrier type system. In a sloped deck system, water continues to flow/flush through both plants as well as substrates until it ends up in the front trough. The front trough, when filled with charcoal or other substrate, holds about 1 ½ cups of water. So, for the same 30 seconds of misting, and in a saturated system, about 66% of the water is exchanged/drained from the system, along with anything else the effluent had entrained in it. If the misting cycle is extended to, say, 5 or more minutes, not only have the leaves of the plants been thoroughly been flushed, but the water in the trough will have been exchanged over six (6) times. The concentration of nutrients being significantly reduced. In a traditional system where water is retained, the same five (5) minute cycle would have only exchanged 60% of the water in the system, and the concentration of nutrients/contaminants still high. The below flyer shows how the cycle works:

Terrestrial plant Font Poster Parallel Plant




Its important to say that terrariums are not usually saturated. So, the total amount of effluent that makes its way to the drain system is less, which means that the effluent, in effect, is far more concentrated in its associated components. So, if the hobbyist wishes to reduce nutrients/parasites/bacteria, etc., in the terrarium, extended misting cycles are important.

In September of 2019, Dr. Brad Wilson gave a key note presentation to the assemblage of the American Frog Day exhibition. Throughout the presentation, Dr. Wilson made one resounding recommendation with regards to keeping Dendrobatids: Parasitic concentration within terrariums is a major concern, and that the only way to combat that, and to keep the animals as healthy as possible, is to flush the enclosures as much as possible, i.e., to wash as much feces, urine, and parasites off of the leaves as possible so that they are not continuously exposed to them, especially the parasites.

Given all of the above, we at In Situ decided early on that a sloped drainage deck with a drain system through the front trough was a very important design objective, and we strongly urge extended mist cycles at least twice per week. Further, we encourage hobbyists to use other methods of washing leaves/axils with various sprayers and/or washing techniques, keeping in mind, all the while, that In Situ terrariums help keep the concentrations of want-nots low.
 

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In September of 2019, Dr. Brad Wilson gave a key note presentation to the assemblage of the American Frog Day exhibition. Throughout the presentation, Dr. Wilson made one resounding recommendation with regards to keeping Dendrobatids: Parasitic concentration within terrariums is a major concern, and that the only way to combat that, and to keep the animals as healthy as possible, is to flush the enclosures as much as possible, i.e., to wash as much feces, urine, and parasites off of the leaves as possible so that they are not continuously exposed to them, especially the parasites.
Do you know if there is a video version of this, or transcripts, or some other record that people could check out for more details?

I really like the bottom design of the InSitu vivs, by the way. :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do you know if there is a video version of this, or transcripts, or some other record that people could check out for more details?

I really like the bottom design of the InSitu vivs, by the way. :)
That sounds like a good suggestion! We'll create a video and post it soon!
 

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We were asked by numerous people to create a video showing the importance of drainage, and how it works in an In Situ tank performs verses a traditional egg crate tank. The video was created to support Dr. Brad Wilson's view point that flushing your vivariums is fundamental aspect of good husbandry, and supports reduced biological and parasitic loads.

Its important to note that In Situ's founder created the In Situ design to address this foundational need, with respects to creating and maintaining a healthy system.

Importance of Drainage

Enjoy the video!

In Situ Team
 

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That's a very useful video, Bill. It really makes clear the drainage advantages to folks who aren't familiar with a slope-bottom design of the sort the InSitu vivs have.

I wonder if the extended misting sessions (a great idea, I think) might overwhelm the ability of some standard substrate barrier materials to drain quickly -- there are occassional threads raising concerns like this -- whereas there isn't any worry since InSitus drain so efficiently.
 
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